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The Giant of Silence - Matthew 14:1-10

Taught on | Keywords: boldness, confrontation, fear, the gospel, love, moral issues, morality, persecution, sin, truth

"Silence is golden," says the old adage. But that is true only sometimes. Many other times, to be silent is to be complicit in the evil that is being committed around us. John the Baptist, one of the most outspoken prophetic voices in history, helps us navigate the need to speak out against evil and immorality. He confronted a powerful political leader of his day, pointing out where he had violated God’s law. John was imprisoned and executed as a result. Should Christians enter the public square to dialogue about moral issues? Yes, but let’s see how.

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8/22/2021
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The Giant of Silence
Matthew 14:1-10
Skip Heitzig
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Message Summary
"Silence is golden," says the old adage. But that is true only sometimes. Many other times, to be silent is to be complicit in the evil that is being committed around us. John the Baptist, one of the most outspoken prophetic voices in history, helps us navigate the need to speak out against evil and immorality. He confronted a powerful political leader of his day, pointing out where he had violated God’s law. John was imprisoned and executed as a result. Should Christians enter the public square to dialogue about moral issues? Yes, but let’s see how.
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Hunting Giants

Hunting Giants

There are giants in the land. They are not easy to recognize like the literal giants of the Old Testament, "tall as the cedars and strong as the oaks" (Amos 2:9, NIV), but they can be just as dangerous. And we must have the courage to destroy them. In this teaching series, Skip Heitzig explores literal and symbolic giants throughout the Bible and the heroes who slayed them. Daniel challenged the giant of conformity. Nehemiah obliterated the giant of apathy. Esther executed the giant of self. Courage starts where confidence ends.

Outline

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  1. The Guilty Conscience of a Politician (vv. 1-10)

  2. The Gutsy Courage of a Prophet (v. 4)

  3. The Great Cost for God’s People (vv. 3, 10)

Keywords: boldness, confrontation, fear, the gospel, love, moral issues, morality, persecution, sin, truth

Study Guide

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Connect Group Guide: August 22, 2021
Speaker: Skip Heitzig
Teaching: “The Giant of Silence”
Text: Matthew 14:1-10

Main Point
“Silence is golden,” says the old adage. But that is true only sometimes. Many other times, to be silent is to be complicit in the evil that is being committed around us. John the Baptist, one of the most outspoken prophetic voices in history, helps us navigate the need to speak out against evil and immorality. He confronted a powerful political leader of his day, pointing out where he had violated God’s law. John was imprisoned and executed as a result. Should Christians enter the public square to dialogue about moral issues? Yes, but let’s see how.

“At that time many will be offended and repelled [by their association with Me] and will fall away [from the One whom they should trust] and will betray one another [handing over believers to their persecutors] and will hate one another.” —Matthew 24:10 (AMP)

Talk about It
  1. If a king told you that you could ask for anything in the world, what would you ask for?
  2. Share a time when you had the courage to confront a moral issue with truth, in love, even though it was difficult. What was the outcome, and was it worth it?
  3. How should we sensitively, lovingly share the gospel in a culture offended by Jesus? Discuss the personal cost. Discuss the cost of staying silent. Which cost is ultimately worth paying?
  4. Can you think of an area in your life where your actions are governed by your fear? Read Proverbs 29:25.
“When you fear God, you don’t have to fear anyone else; when you kneel before God, you can stand up to anyone.” —Pastor Skip

Make It Practical
Reading Plan: This week, consider the people in Scripture who had the courage to be faithful and confront the giant of silence. Share your insights throughout the week.
  • Day 1 – Daniel 3
    Consider the outcome of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego refusing to bow down and worship a golden image. How did God show up?
  • Day 2 – 2 Samuel 12:1-15
    Consider the courage of Nathan the prophet confronting King David with his adultery and act of murder and the outcome.
  • Day 3 – 2 Chronicles 24:17-22
    Consider the cost of Zechariah’s conviction to rebuke the people for worshiping Asherah poles and idols.
  • Day 4 – Daniel 5
    Consider Daniel’s courage to speak before Belshazzar. What was he charged with?
  • Day 5 – Acts 6:8-7:60
    Consider Stephen’s boldness to speak up in synagogue about Jesus and his last words before he died.
  • Day 6 – 1 Kings 18:16-19:18
    Consider how Elijah confronted Ahab, spoke up, and denounced idolatry.
  • Day 7 – Hebrews 11:32-39
    Consider the early Christians: fed to lions, burned at the stake, and used as torches. Will you be content with safety, or are you ready for a life of faithfulness?
Pray
Father, help us to be bold and not only when it comes easy in the presence of those who agree with us. It’s difficult when we are standing alone in the midst of people who seek our demise. You know that; You promised that it would be difficult. Help us to not retreat to safety, but in Your love, speak up and speak out for You. There are still so many that You want to save and transform. Let us be a part of that work by speaking the truth in love. Lead us to be a people who truly fear You, in reverential awe and wonder. In Jesus’ name.

Cross references: Ecclesiastes 3:7; Matthew 3:7; 24:10-12; Mark 6:20; 1 Corinthians 1:18; Ephesians 4:15; 1 Peter 2:8

Transcript

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The Giant of Silence - Matthew 14:1-10 - Skip Heitzig

[MUSIC PLAYING]

[APPLAUSE]

Would you turn in your Bibles, please, to the Gospel of Matthew, chapter 14-- Matthew chapter 14. A group of researchers wanted to study how different people think, so they brought a small group of folks and called for a little, short test, took people from different walks of life.

The first one that came in the room with the researchers was an engineer. And they say, we have one simple question we want you to answer. 2 plus 2 equals what? And so the question was asked, and the engineer kind of looked quizzically and said, well, if you're speaking in absolute terms, 2 and 2 equals 4. They were writing notes down. They thanked him very much, and dismissed him, and he went on his way.

Next person to come in the room was an architect, and she sat down. And the researchers said, we have one question to ask you. 2 Plus 2 makes what? And she paused a moment and said, well, there are several possibilities. Sure, 2 and 2 equals 4, but 3 and 1 also makes 4. 2 and 1/2 and 1 and 1/2 also makes 4. So it's all about choosing the right option. Spoken like an architect.

The third person they brought into the room was an attorney. And they said, we have one simple question. 2 plus 2 equals what? The attorney looked at the researchers, looked around the room suspiciously, furtively. Asked if he could close the door for privacy. Came back to the table, leaned in to the researchers and said, well, you tell me, what would you like it to be?

[LAUGHTER]

Now, I know that attorneys often get the brunt of a lot of jokes like that, but there's a moral to this story. We can be tempted to do exactly that when it comes to the truth. We have truth, but the people hearing the truth may be offended if we speak the truth, and so we're tempted to sort of bend in their direction.

What do you want it to be? What is your truth versus my truth? In Ephesians chapter 4, Paul said that we should be all about speaking the truth in love. And that's wonderful, but it's not always easy to do.

We can be tempted to just focus on the truth-- speaking the truth-- and leave out the love. Or we can be all about love, love, love, and we can leave out the truth. So speaking the truth in love is the magical combination.

By the way, you need to know this-- speaking the truth in and of itself is an act of love. It is. One of the best, most loving things you could ever do to another person is to be honest-- to tell them the truth no matter what it is. If you can add to that a loving disposition, then you'll be further down the road.

Solomon, in Ecclesiastes chapter 3, said there is a time to keep silence, and there is a time to speak. Elijah the prophet thought it was time to speak when he confronted Ahab and Jezebel. Samuel the prophet thought it was time to speak when he confronted King Saul with his disobedience. Daniel the prophet believed it's time to speak when Belshazzar the King was pridefully indulging in idolatry. Nathan the prophet thought it was time to speak when he pointed his finger at King David after his adultery and said, you are the guy who did this. You're the man. All of them spoke out.

Now, it is dangerous to speak up. We'll talk a little bit about that here. But there are consequences if you don't speak up. It's dangerous if you don't. Edmund Burke is famous for a lot of things, but one of the most famous things he said is, "All that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing."

And I think we could say, with this message, all that is needed for evil to triumph is also for good men and women to say nothing. That was the problem in World War II and Nazi Germany. Many of the churches were silent when the atrocities of the Third Reich became known.

I picked up a book again recently-- I think you've heard of it, 1984 by George Orwell. It's amazing how contemporary that book has become these days. George Orwell said this. "If liberty means anything at all, it means the right to tell people what they don't want to hear."

I believe that, but I also believe that what complicates telling people what they may not want to hear is that today especially, people get offended so easily. In fact, I think it's not beyond the stretch to say ours is the most offended generation in all of history. And you say something, and people need a safe space to process that in.

In Matthew chapter 14-- it's a very refreshing story, really. It's a story about a man of God who confronts a governing authority, and he speaks up. He speaks out. He is not silent. He overcomes the giant of silence, but it cost him. Cost him his life, in this case.

What I want to do is look at the first 10 verses of Matthew chapter 14 with you. I want to consider it in three segments-- the first segment being the guilty conscience of a politician. So it's John the Baptist and a politician named Herod the tetrarch, and it's really not a story about them, per say. It's a story about how Herod is reacting to the ministry of Jesus.

But then Matthew hearkens back to an example to show us why he is feeling a certain way because of something that happened. Let's read the story. "At that time, Herod the tetrarch heard the report about Jesus and said to his servants, 'This is John the Baptist; he is risen from the dead, and therefore these powers are at work in him' For Herod had laid hold of John and bound him, and put him in prison for the sake of Herodias, his brother Philip's wife.

Because John had said to him, 'It is not lawful for you to have her.' And although he wanted to put him to death, he feared the multitude, because they counted him as a prophet. But when Herod's birthday was celebrated, the daughter of Herodias danced before them and pleased Herod. Therefore, he promised with an oath to give her whatever she might ask."

And in Mark's account of this same story, he said that Herod promised her up to half his kingdom. "So she--" verse 8-- "having been prompted by her mother, said, 'Give me John the Baptist's head here on a platter.' And the king was sorry; nevertheless, because of the oaths and because of those who sat with him, he commanded it to be given to her. So he sent and had John beheaded in prison."

The name Herod is one of the most famous names in all of the New Testament. But whenever you read the name Herod, they're not always the same guy. It's a very complex family system.

The Herod that we read about here is not the famous Herod that shows up in the beginning of the Gospel stories who is called Herod the Great. Now, Herod the Great, who is the father of this Herod, was a notorious cold-blooded murderer. He would kill members of the Jewish ruling class-- Sanhedrin-- if they disagreed with his policies.

He, on one occasion, murdered his own wife. He, on another occasion, murdered two of his sons. He, on another occasion, tried to murder all the-- did murder all the baby boys in Bethlehem and the environs to kill Jesus Christ. That's Herod the Great.

This is Herod's son, Herod Antipas. Now, Herod the Great died shortly after that whole Bethlehem scene. He died, and before he died, he gave his empire of ruling Israel to his sons. Half went to Herod Archelaus, a quarter of it went to Herod Philip, and another quarter of it went to this guy, Herod Antipas, who ruled what is called Paria and Galilee.

So it is that Herod Antipas. Now, what Matthew is doing is giving us a literary flashback to help us understand how John the Baptist was killed. So the idea that he hears about Jesus-- Herod hears about Jesus Christ and immediately thinks, [GASP] that's the guy I killed! Because he is plagued with a guilty conscience.

Now, something else-- Herod Antipas ruled over Galilee. Most of Jesus' miracles took place in Galilee. So the teachings of Jesus, the miracles of Jesus, the controversy swirling around the person of Jesus Christ, was coming to the ears of Herod. And Herod says it's John the Baptist.

So what it shows us is that whatever time elapsed between the death of John the Baptist and the report of Jesus in the ears of Herod, this guy is suffering from a guilty conscience because of what he had done. And what did he do? Why is his conscience guilty? Herod murdered the one man who called him out on his sin-- mentioned in verse 4. It's unlawful for you to have her, he said.

Now, let me give you the back story of that. On one occasion, this guy-- Herod Antipas-- was in Rome. While he was in Rome, he seduced the wife of his brother, Herod Phillip. Her name was Herodias.

He lured her away from Philip to himself to marry her. In order to do that, he had to divorce his first wife. His first wife was the daughter of King Aretas of Arabia. When King Aretas of Arabia heard about how his son-in-law treated his daughter, he almost had Herod killed, but Rome intervened.

So it's a mess. This family is dysfunctional, to say the least. And the chick that he's hooking up with here, Herodias, herself-- she has such a sordid background. She's one of the most wicked women in all of the Bible, because we read, in this account-- and in the Gospel of Mark's account-- that she told her daughter to dance before Herod to get something she wanted done. And the dance was a very lustful, sensual dance. Scholars believe the daughter was between age 14 to age 16. Can you imagine using your daughter to dance sensually, sexually, lustfully before a king so that you could get that king to do what you want?

In fact, look at verse 6. "When Herod's birthday was celebrated, the daughter of Herodias danced before them--" and notice the word "pleased--" "and pleased Herod." That word "pleased" is a euphemism for being sexually aroused. So John the Baptist called them out. Herodias-- the new wife-- gets involved. John the Baptist gets executed.

So Matthew's filling us in on the back story. This is how J the B-- John the Baptist-- died. Here's what happened to him. This is how he got killed. Now, when that happened, and during this time-- for this whatever time period it was-- Herod felt uneasy about what he had done, because look at verse 9.

It says, "And the King was sorry." I just got to say, that's not a strong enough word when you kill people. Gee, I'm sorry that I did that. "And the king was sorry; nevertheless, because of the oaths and because of those who sat with him, he commanded it--" that is, the head of John the Baptist-- "to be given to her."

Herod was remorseful, but Herod was not repentant. There's a big difference between being remorseful for a situation and being repentant of your sin. The Bible says godly sorrow produces repentance. This is not godly sorrow. Produces no repentance.

Herod is a politician. And Herod, like most politicians, was fearful of ratings. He was fearful of people. He was afraid of Jesus-- in verse 2. He's afraid of his wife in verse 3. He is afraid of the crowds in verse 5. He's afraid of his peers in verse 9. And according to Luke chapter 6, he was afraid of John the Baptist.

And you got to know-- fear is a poor motivator. If you make judgments and decisions and live your life by fear, you will constantly make bad decisions. And he made a whole list of them. But politicians will do almost anything to get elected, and once elected, they will do anything to stay in power. And so he had fear. He's driven by fear. Got to protect.

On the other hand, John the Baptist also had fear. But the fear that John the Baptist had was the good kind of fear. He had the fear of the Lord, the fear of God. The Bible speaks so much about why that's so good-- to live with the respect-- literally the idea of reverence and respect-- for God. That's a holy fear. That's a healthy fear.

So he had the fear of God. Herod did not have the fear of God. Herod was consumed by, controlled by the fear of men. But not John the Baptist. And because of that, he did what he did and said what he said.

See, when you fear God, you don't have to fear anybody else. When you fear God, you don't have to fear anything else. If you kneel before God, you can stand up to anybody. And John the Baptist is a case in point.

[APPLAUSE]

So let's zero in on the issue here, because we are given, in verse 4, the courage-- the gutsy courage-- of this prophet. It's a short sentence. It says, "Because John said to him--" and obviously, this was a public declaration to him-- "'It is not lawful for you to have her--'" that is, your brother's wife. It's not lawful.

Now, what law was he referring to? Not Roman law. Jewish law. It is not lawful for you to have her. If you've read much of the New Testament-- in fact, it really takes just one reading of it. You don't have to even get very far in it. But you come up to a point about John the Baptist pretty quickly.

The man was not a diplomat. The man was a prophet. He was hard-hitting. He was outspoken. Time and time again, very bold, very courageous. When he comes on the scene, John the Baptist almost singularly beat one drum-- the drum of repentance. That was his first message-- repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand.

And then different groups came to him, and he confronted them. He said to the religious leaders who came to him and chided him, you brood of vipers-- that's a King James way of saying you bunch of slimy snakes. Who warned you to flee from the wrath that is to come? See, he was not a diplomat.

And then the tax collectors came, and he said, don't overtax people. The soldiers came to him. He said, don't intimidate people. So he was always upfront, honest, bold, courageous.

Preaching the Gospel-- just preaching the Gospel-- is going to cost you and be offensive. The first recorded message out of John the Baptist's mouth-- repent. The first recorded message out of the mouth of Jesus Christ-- repent.

So I'm guessing that the first message-- or at least, early on in the conversation-- out of our mouth to unbelievers is going to be what? Repent. I'm guessing. I mean, if I follow the role model of the New Testament John and Jesus, early on in the conversation he called people to repent-- to turn around, to change, to inform people of the danger they are in.

The Gospel-- you know what the Gospel means? What does "Gospel" mean? Tell me. Good news. It's good news. But do you know that the good news begins with the bad news?

You see, if you don't know the bad news, the good news isn't all that good. Really, it's just, OK, it's another religion. No, no, no. You need to understand how good the good news is by understanding how bad that bad news is. It's bad. And the bad news is all people left alone are facing the sure eternal punishment of a righteous Holy God in Hell.

That's pretty bad. Don't get much worse than that. Of course, the good news is God loves you. God will forgive you. But you must repent. You must turn around. And that message of the Gospel is a hard-hitting message.

I just want to say, don't try to remove the offense. If you try to remove the offense of the Gospel, you are doing the devil's work. People need to know why the good news is so good, and the danger they are in without Christ.

So I'm not saying you should try to be offensive. Don't do that. Try to be respectful. Try to be nice. We covered that last week. But listen-- even with a smile on your face and a hug, the message of the Gospel itself is offensive.

Peter called Jesus a stone of stumbling and a rock of offense. And Paul said, the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing. So just living in a secular culture, bringing the good news of Jesus Christ as being the only means by which a person could ever be saved-- it's going to rock people's world. It's going to get people uncomfortable. They're not going to like hearing that they're bad off and need Him.

But here's what I want you to see. I want you to notice something here. John the Baptist does not confront Herod with a salvation message. He confronts him with a moral issue-- adultery.

Again, verse 4-- "'It is not lawful for you to have her.'" Now, just hold that thought. Why does he do this? I mean, here he's talking to a king, a monarch, saying, you shouldn't have other women. What king doesn't have other women?

That's what kings did, especially in ancient times. They had a whole slew of women at their disposal. So why does John the Baptist, at the risk of his own life, confront a political authority with a moral issue about his personal life? And that is the affair that he had, the marriage that he had to Herodias.

Now, I ask the question sincerely, because-- and I've said it so many times-- I never expect unbelievers to live like believers. I don't. I want them to become believers, but I don't expect their moral behavior to match that of a believer. I expect believers who say, I'm a believer, to have a biblical stance, but I don't expect unbelievers to live like believers. I don't expect sinners to act like saints.

Well, here's why, I think. I think this is why John nails him. The Herod family claimed to have an affiliation and an affinity for Judaism-- in fact, to even be Jewish. His great grandfather converted to Judaism. His Father, Herod the Great-- though hated by the Jewish nation, largely-- claimed to uphold Jewish laws.

They tried to walk the line of really, man, we practiced Judaism. We love Jewish people. In fact, did you know Rome called Herod the Great the King of the Jews? That was their title for him-- the King of the Jews. No wonder he was upset when one was born in Bethlehem. Somebody was taking his title.

But it's because they claimed to be believers, in a sense, claimed to be Jewish, that John the Baptist said, all right. It's not lawful, according to our laws-- Jewish law, that you claim to live under-- to do what you are doing. So he's speaking out against the man's hypocrisy.

Now, I'm raising this because it takes us to the larger issue. When should we, as Christians, speak out on moral issues? When should we be silent? When should we speak? When should we think, OK, these are unbelievers. They do what they do, or well, this person's claiming to walk with Christ, but-- when do we start speaking out about these things?

Well, I want to get a little bit of help in answering that question from somebody who did just that. His name was Martin Luther King Jr. And he believed that he should speak out about the issue of civil rights for two reasons. Number one, because what he was saying squared with the biblical mandate, and number two, because what he was saying squared with what our founding fathers believed in-- that all men are created equal, endowed by their creator with inalienable rights-- life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Because those two issues squared with what he was saying, he spoke out.

In his famous letter from the Birmingham Jail, he wrote this. "How does one determine whether a law is just or unjust? A just law is a man-made code that squares with the moral law of God. An unjust law is a code that is out of harmony with the moral law. To put it in the terms of St. Thomas Aquinas, an unjust law is a human law that is not rooted in eternal and natural law."

I find that very, very helpful. So John the Baptist felt that's happening, so he spoke out-- very courageously. Now, that takes us to the last little segment I want to look at and consider with you, and that is what that will cost you. So we've looked at the guilty conscience of a politician and the gutsy courage of a prophet. I want to take you, now, to the great cost for God's people.

John's honesty got him in trouble. John's outspokenness cost him a lot. First of all, he was arrested, apprehended. He was incarcerated. Verse 3 says, "Herod laid hold of John--" that's the apprehension-- "bound him, and put him in prison--" that's the incarceration-- "for the sake of Herodias, his brother Philip's wife." According to Josephus, the Jewish historian, John the Baptist was kept in prison for about a year at a place called Macarius just east of the Jordan River and Dead Sea, in present-day Jordan-- one of the palaces of Herod-- and kept in a hole in the ground until he was executed, which takes us to verse 10, the other cost. "And so he sent and had John beheaded in prison."

Forgive me if, when I read verse 10 on this particular weekend, my heart is especially broken. When I read about John being beheaded, it's eerie to read, because I know that the Taliban-- to whom we have ceded an entire nation-- does exactly that. They have had a history of brutality for years as Islamists and extremists.

Now, if you were to follow Josephus-- that Jewish historian I keep referring to-- he said, John the Baptist was killed by Herod because Herod feared that John had such influence over the people that he would be able to mount an insurrection or a rebellion to overthrow him. So according to Josephus, he said that the reason he killed John is to hold on to political power.

I don't doubt that. But I look a little bit more carefully at the scripture, and I realize it was also because of the provocation of his wife, Herodias-- because she's part of the equation. It's not lawful for you to have her. She's the her. So she's part of it. And he was henpecked by her, pushed by her, and he caved in.

Let me read the account to you in Mark, chapter 6-- just two verses. "For John had said to Herod, 'It is not lawful for you to have your brother's wife.' Therefore, Herodias held it against him and wanted to kill him, but she could not."

Now, I just-- again, just so you understand a little bit of the history, I don't think you could have a worse match of two people ever than Antipas and Herodias. Antipas had his own issues, his own family background. But them together-- it was like a match made in Hell, because also, her family history was a history of brutality.

She had an ancestor by the name of Alexander Jannaeus who crucified 800 men at a dinner party. That is, he invited guests to come and watch the entertainment of 800 men dying on crosses. And just to add to the entertainment, he brought in the families-- the wives and children of those crucified men-- killed them in front of their eyes so that the last memory they would have in their excruciating pain as they left this world was that of their families dying first. Welcome to dinner. What's for dessert? So that's her background. So you get him and her together, and John the Baptist calling them out, and you get an execution.

Now, here's what's weird. Herod Antipas liked John. He liked him-- sort of. It's like, I like this guy. No, I don't. I hate this guy. I love this guy! No, I hate him.

Let me explain. Mark chapter 6, verse 20. Listen carefully. "Herod respected John, knowing that he was a good and holy man, and so he kept him under his protection. Herod was disturbed whenever he talked with John, but even so he liked to listen to him." I mean, is that conflicted or what? I hate this guy, but boy can he preach!

[LAUGHTER]
Well, John was executed in that prison. And faithful men and faithful women throughout history-- Old Testament and New Testament-- those who stood up for God, who love God singularly, who spoke out to their generation, spoke up in their culture, suffered consequences. It is the history. It is the spiritual history of our belief system. We incur the consequences.

All those who live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution. You want a promise from the Bible? There's one. You'll get it. Jeremiah proclaimed judgment. King Zedekiah put them in a muddy pit.

Isaiah the prophet faithfully preached to the nation of Judah. King Manasseh had him sawn in two. Zechariah rebuked the people for worshipping statues, and he was stoned to death in the temple. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego refused to bow, and they were thrown into a fiery furnace.

Stephen, in the New Testament, spoke up in the synagogue. They drug him out of the synagogue and stoned him to death. Matthew-- the author of the book we're reading-- was killed with a sword. Peter was crucified upside down. Thomas went to India, where a lance was thrust through him, and he died.

Early Christians were fed to the lions, burned at the stake, had pitch poured over them, used as living torches until their bodies incinerated, to light up the gardens of Caesar Nero in Rome. That's our history. And I know some of you are thinking, uh, Skip, you're not helping our cause.

If you think a message like this is going to get more recruits to Christianity, wrong message. And I would say back to you, that's OK, because we'll get the right ones. We'll get the real ones.

[APPLAUSE]

You'll always have the fake ones go. Let them go. Chaff separated from the wheat. But the real ones will come, and the real ones will stay. I'm going to read something that I found that was given to me, actually-- this was posted by somebody a couple days ago. There will be Afghan Christians who will die this week because they have chosen faithfulness over safety. There will be American Christians who will skip church this week because they have chosen safety over faithfulness.

Now, please accept that in the spirit in which it was offered-- not meant to be a guilt trip that if you are immunocompromised or you need to be alone and safe, please, do that. But still, this is true of what we consider more important. Folks, this is a time for boldness. This is not a time for timid souls. This is not a time for the faint-hearted. This is a time for believers to rise up and come out of the closet.

[APPLAUSE]

Everybody else is. Everybody else is proud to be them. Shouldn't we?

[CHEERING AND APPLAUSE]
But it won't be easy. Jesus spoke about the end of days, the end times. Matthew chapter 24 gave a list of signs of things you can expect in the last days. One of the things usually disregarded by those who love to study eschatology-- and I love to study eschatology, but those who talk all about the end days and signs, they kind of leave this part out. Jesus said, and many will be offended because of me. Many will be offended because of me.

The word he used is "scandalidzo." It means they will fall away from the faith. There will be fake believers who will jump off the bandwagon so quickly. They'll abandon ship. They'll be offended because of me.

We used to call them Alka Seltzer Christians. You get the picture, right? They bubble up quickly in enthusiasm, and they fizzle out just as quickly. I'm reading a book by Erwin Lutzer, my friend who has spoken here a number of occasions, called We Will Not Be Silent. I recommend it to you.

He wrote this. "Boldness comes easily when you're in the presence of someone who agrees with you. It is difficult when you are standing alone in the midst of people who seek your demise. Boldness behind a pulpit is one thing; boldness in a city council meeting is another. Boldness is seen most clearly when you have burned the bridge that would have enabled you to retreat."

It's like, you know, I'm going to say this. It might cost me a lot. Might cost me a job. It might cost me a relationship. In some cases, it might cost me my life. You are willing to do what is right and say what is right.

When you speak up-- and you should speak up on certain moral issues, like abortion-- a blight on our nation, the millions upon millions of babies that have been slaughtered. And you just hear about it, and there's a controversy about it. Just you get inundated, daily, with it. It's just like OK, it happens. We should speak out against that.

There are moral issues we should speak out against, sexuality issues, gender issues, pronoun issues. But be ready for arrows to come your way when you do. Be ready for that. And be ready for the cancel culture warriors to mount up and say, you don't have a right to say that. Funny, because they have a right to say anything.

[LAUGHTER]

It's freedom of speech for me, but not for thee. So they'll just try to cancel you off their platforms altogether. See, if the world can't talk you out of your belief, they'll try to mock you out of your belief. They'll just say all sorts of bad, inflammatory things, or tweet nasty things, and glom on and create a controversy, and sign petitions and just mock you for your faith.

You can also expect hate speech legislation to be more rigorous than ever. It's coming. It's going to come a day-- soon-- when it will be illegal to preach the Gospel-- to go out on the street, to go in your office and say, this is how you get to Heaven. This is how you get saved. That'll be called hate speech. And they'll tell you to stop it, like they did to the disciples in Jerusalem, to which they replied, we must obey God rather than men.

[APPLAUSE]
It's already happening. It's already happening in Canada. In Canada, Christian pastors are forbidden to speak against same sex marriage on television. It's illegal. Can't do it.

You can't speak out against another faith in that country. One Pastor, Mark Harding, was sentenced to 340 hours of sensitivity training by a Muslim Imam for speaking out against Islam-- hate speech.

I want to close with a story that you should know anyway. You should know, just as a Christian, this is part of your heritage. Comes from the Great Reformation-- the British Reformation. The Reformation, by the time it hit England, was well on its way to success, but was having problems in England.

One of the great reformers was Hugh Latimer-- Bishop Hugh Latimer-- a fiery preacher. And he was going to give a message one Sunday at a church, but he was told that the king was going to come to that church service. Now, the king in question was King Henry VIII. You know your history, King Henry VIII had a fondness for decapitation, much like Herod. Liked to cut people's heads off. He was notorious for that.

So imagine being the preacher with that guy in the crowd. And you're thinking, boy, I better not say anything that will offend him. So Hugh Latimer gets up to preach, and as he spoke, he struggled. And he said-- and he said it out loud, as if talking to himself-- he said Latimer, Latimer! Do you remember that you are speaking before the high and mighty King Henry VIII? Be careful what you say, for he is able to take your life-- said that out loud.

Then he paused for a moment, gathered himself again, and continued and said-- aloud-- Latimer, Latimer! Do you not remember that you are speaking before the king of kings and Lord of Lords, before Him at whose throne Henry VIII will stand, and before Him to whom one day you will also have to give an account of yourself? And then he finally said, Latimer, Latimer! Be faithful to your master, and declare all of God's word. And he did.

[APPLAUSE]

He, in boldness, preached a clear, compelling Gospel of repentance and faith in Christ. And oddly, King Henry spared him-- his life. But the queen did not. Queen Mary-- also known in history as Bloody Mary-- gave the orders for his execution to be burned at the stake. And on the day when Hugh Latimer was burned at the stake-- and there's a marker in the street. You can see it in England, where he died.

He was tied up to the wood poles, put on that wooden stick pyre. They started lighting the flames. Next to him was another clergyman also dying the same fate. Very nervous, scared. And to calm him down and give him assurance, Hugh Latimer said to him, today we will light such a candle in England that will never be put out. That's how he saw that burning at the stake. We're lighting a candle that'll never be put out.

And that candle was lit, and the fires of Reformation started across England and made it over here. May we catch some of that flame and stay fired up, burning strong, being bold, unashamed. Nicely smile, hug, love, fist bump-- whatever you do. Be nice to people, but don't shy away from truth.

Lord give us that kind of boldness. I admit it is easy for me, as a preacher, to say it with bunches of amens around me and church people, and behind a pulpit. I know it's vastly different in the secular world.

We all do. We know that. We are afraid-- some of us are afraid of not being liked by people, or being marginalized or vilified. It's an occupational hazard, I suppose, of being a child of God. Give us your strength to make a stand for what is right, knowing that by our actions, by our words, some will hate us. Some might mm though and be converted. But above all else, one day we will stand before you as we await to hear you say, well done, good and faithful servant. Until then, give us courage to overcome the giant of silence in Jesus' name.

We hope you enjoyed this special service from Calvary Church. We'd love to know how this message impacted you. Email us at mystory@calvarynm.church. And just a reminder-- you can support this ministry with a financial gift at calvarynm.church/give. Thank you for joining us for this teaching from Calvary Church.

Additional Messages in this Series

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8/15/2021
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The Giant of Conformity
Daniel 1:5-16
Skip Heitzig
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There are giants in the land, both moral and spiritual, and we need courage to confront them! Truth is, the world around us is not at all sympathetic to the Christian cause. In fact, they would like nothing more than to silence us and make us conform to their standards. As our Lord said, “The world would love you as one of its own if you belonged to it, but you are no longer part of the world. I chose you to come out of the world, so it hates you” (John 15:19, NLT). Daniel and his three friends were pressured to conform, but they refused. Let’s find out the source of their strength to make such a courageous stand.
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8/29/2021
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The Giant of Apathy
Nehemiah 2:1-9
Skip Heitzig
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The Oxford Dictionary defines apathy as “lack of interest, enthusiasm, or concern.” It’s the state of being indifferent to something that should otherwise arouse, provoke, or motivate you. It has been noted that cooling down a fanatic is easier than warming up a corpse. When a person ceases to care, that person ceases to attempt change. Though Nehemiah had it made in terms of his earthly status, the condition in his homeland wouldn’t let him stay silent and inactive. Let’s explore the five steps he took to overcome the giant of apathy.
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9/5/2021
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The Giant of Fear
1 Samuel 17
Skip Heitzig
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One of the most paralyzing of all human emotions is fear. It can rob us of reason and faith. It makes a bad situation worse than it really is, and it saps us of energy and confidence. David would write later on, “I sought the Lord, and He heard me, and delivered me from all my fears” (Psalm 34:4). But in our story today he faced a fearsome giant (literally) that his country was in dread of. Let’s consider how fear works and by what means it can be defeated.
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9/12/2021
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The Giant of Self: How One Person Can Make a Difference
Esther 4:13-17
Skip Heitzig
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On this weekend that commemorates the tragedy of September 11, 2001, we especially honor those who gave their lives in trying to rescue others, especially the first responders in law enforcement and fire departments, as well as citizens. Journalist Geraldine Brooks reminds us, “September 11, 2001, revealed heroism in ordinary people who might have gone through their lives never called upon to demonstrate the extent of their courage.” Today we look at the story of Esther’s choice to put self aside and make a difference for those facing death. Here we see the extent of her courage!
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9/19/2021
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Addressing Deconstruction and Cancel Culture
Sean McDowell
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Sean McDowell is a sought-after international speaker on cultural, ethical, theological, and apologetics topics, and he retains a PhD in Apologetics and Worldview Studies from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. He has authored and co-authored over one dozen books and study guides, including So the Next Generation Will Know: Preparing Young Christians for a Challenging World and Chasing Love.
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9/26/2021
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Skip Heitzig Interviews Cissie Graham Lynch, Vince Torres, and Lenya Heitzig
Skip Heitzig
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In this special service, Skip Heitzig interviews Cissie Graham Lynch, Vince Torres, and Lenya Heitzig. Cissie Graham Lynch is the host of the podcast Fearless, in which she discusses living with a fearless faith in a compromising culture. Vince Torres is president of the Family Policy Alliance of New Mexico, and he joins us to discuss political issues facing Christian families today. Finally is Reload Love founder Lenya Heitzig, who speaks about the global efforts to fight terrorism and how everyday people can help.
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10/3/2021
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The Giant of Overwhelming Odds
Judges 7:1-15
Skip Heitzig
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By now you have discovered that we who are Christians are surrounded! There seems to always be more who are against us than who are for us. We face the reality (and we feel it, too!) that we are living in enemy territory. That doesn’t give us permission to be adversarial or combative, for we’ll attract more flies with honey than with vinegar (see 2 Timothy 2:24-25). But Christians are either overcome by their unbelief or they are overcomers because of their faith. How do we navigate through life when the odds are stacked against us and circumstances seem overwhelming?
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10/10/2021
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The Giant of Religion
Acts 6-7
Skip Heitzig
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Religion might not seem like a giant to overcome unless you’re an atheist. But did you know the source of much persecution and oppression around the world is religious groups? The prophets, the apostles, the early church, and even Jesus Himself all had run-ins with religious leaders and formalized religious systems. Some of you come from a very religious background but now enjoy the freedom of a relationship with God through Jesus. How does one successfully stand up to religious pressure while impacting it with the gospel? Let’s see how Stephen did it.
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10/17/2021
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The Ultimate Giant Slayer
Hebrews 12:1-3
Skip Heitzig
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10/31/2021
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A Courage Revival
Psalm 31:24
Johnnie Moore
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Johnnie Moore is an author, businessperson, and itinerant pastor who is best known for his religious freedom advocacy all around the world. His latest book, The Next Jihad, is about the persecution of Christians in Africa. He is the recipient of many awards and honors, including the prestigious Medal of Valor from the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Los Angeles. He has been twice appointed to the US Commission for International Religious Freedom by the president of the United States.
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There are 10 additional messages in this series.
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